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      Examining purchasing reforms towards universal health coverage by the National Hospital Insurance Fund in Kenya

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          Kenya has prioritized the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC) through the expansion of health insurance coverage by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). In 2015, the NHIF introduced reforms in premium contribution rates, benefit packages, and provider payment methods. We examined the influence of these reforms on NHIF’s purchasing practices and their implications for strategic purchasing and health system goals of equity, efficiency and quality.


          We conducted an embedded case study with the NHIF as the case and the reforms as embedded units of analysis. We collected data at the national level and in two purposively selected counties through 41 in-depth interviews with health financing stakeholders, facility managers and frontline providers; 4 focus group discussions with 51 NHIF members; and, document reviews. We analysed the data using a Framework approach.


          The new NHIF reforms were characterized by weak purchasing actions. Firstly, the new premium contribution rates were inadequately communicated and unaffordable for certain citizen groups. Secondly, while the new benefit packages were reported to be based on service needs, preferences and values of the population, they were inadequately communicated and unequally distributed across different citizen groups. In addition, the presence of service delivery infrastructure gaps in public healthcare facilities and the pro-urban and pro-private distribution of contracted health facilities compromised delivery of, and access to, these new services. Lastly, the new provider payment methods and rates were considered inadequate, with delayed payments and weak links to financial accountability mechanisms which compromised their ability to incentivize equity, efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery.


          While NHIF sought to expand population and service coverage and reduce out-of-pocket payments with the new reforms, weaknesses in the reforms’ design and implementation limited NHIF’s purchasing actions with negative implications for the health system goals of equity, efficiency and quality. For the reforms to accelerate the country’s progress towards UHC, policy makers at the NHIF and, national and county government should make deliberate efforts to align the design and implementation of such reforms with strategic purchasing actions that are aimed at improving health system goals.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Community health insurance in Uganda: why does enrolment remain low? A view from beneath.

          Community Health Insurance (CHI) in Uganda faces low enrolment despite interest by the Ugandan health sector to have CHI as an elaborate health sector financing mechanism. User fees have been abolished in all government facilities and CHI in Uganda is limited to the private not for profit sub-sector, mainly church-related rural hospitals. In this study, the reasons for the low enrolment are investigated in two different models of CHI. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were carried out with members and non-members of CHI schemes in order to acquire more insight and understanding in people's perception of CHI, in their reasons for joining and not joining and in the possibilities they see to increase enrolment. This study, which is unprecedented in East Africa, clearly points to a mixed understanding on the basic principles of CHI and on the routine functioning of the schemes. The lack of good information is mentioned by many. Problems in ability to pay the premium, poor quality of health care, the rigid design in terms of enrolment requirements and problems of trust are other important reasons for people not to join. Our findings are grossly in line with the results of similar studies conducted in West Africa even if a number of context-specific issues have been identified. The study provides relevant elements for the design of a national policy on CHI in Uganda and other sub-Saharan countries.
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            The national health insurance scheme: perceptions and experiences of health care providers and clients in two districts of Ghana

            Background Prepayments and risk pooling through social health insurance has been advocated by international development organizations. Social health insurance is seen as a mechanism that helps mobilize resources for health, pool risk, and provide more access to health care services for the poor. Hence Ghana implemented the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to help promote access to health care services for Ghanaians. The study examined the influence of the NHIS on the behavior of health care providers in their treatment of insured and uninsured clients. Methods The study took place in Bolgatanga (urban) and Builsa (rural) districts in Ghana. Data was collected through exit survey with 200 insured and uninsured clients, 15 in-depth interviews with health care providers and health insurance managers, and 8 focus group discussions with insured and uninsured community members. Results The NHIS promoted access for insured and mobilized revenue for health care providers. Both insured and uninsured were satisfied with care (survey finding). However, increased utilization of health care services by the insured leading to increased workloads for providers influenced their behavior towards the insured. Most of the insured perceived and experienced long waiting times, verbal abuse, not being physically examined and discrimination in favor of the affluent and uninsured. The insured attributed their experience to the fact that they were not making immediate payments for services. A core challenge of the NHIS was a delay in reimbursement which affected the operations of health facilities and hence influenced providers’ behavior as well. Providers preferred clients who would make instant payments for health care services. Few of the uninsured were utilizing health facilities and visit only in critical conditions. This is due to the increased cost of health care services under the NHIS. Conclusion The perceived opportunistic behavior of the insured by providers was responsible for the difference in the behavior of providers favoring the uninsured. Besides, the delay in reimbursement also accounted for providers’ negative attitude towards the insured. There is urgent need to address these issues in order to promote confidence in the NHIS, as well as its sustainability for the achievement of universal coverage.
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              Drop-out analysis of community-based health insurance membership at Nouna, Burkina Faso.

              This study aims to identify the reasons why enrolled people decide not to renew their membership in following years. Household survey is used to collect information on the factors influencing dropping out from community-based health insurance (CBI). Information from CBI agency databank is used to describe the general situation of enrolment and drop-out. Since the launch of CBI the enrolment rate has been low ranging from 5.2% to 6.3%. The drop-out rate, however, has been high ranging from 30.9% to 45.7%. It is found, by the multivariate analysis, that female household head, higher age or lower education of a household head, lower number of illness episodes in the past three months, fewer children or elderly in a household, poor perceived health care quality, less seeking care in the past month positively effected on drop-out, increasing the rate. However, the household six-month expenditure and the distance to the contracted health facility did not have the hypothesised sign. In contrast, a higher household expenditure and a shorter distance to the contracted health facility increased the drop-out. High drop-out rates endanger the sustainability of CBI not only because they reduce the size of the insurance pool, but also because they bear a negative impact on further enrolment and drop-out. The drop-out rate in the scheme of the Nouna Health District, Burkina Faso, is very high. The reasons for drop-out may be related to affordability, health-needs and health demand, quality of care, household head and household characteristics. This study represents a valuable attempt towards further increasing the sustainability of CBI schemes, by understanding not what motivates people to first enrol in CBI, but what motivates them to renew membership year after year.

                Author and article information

                Int J Equity Health
                Int J Equity Health
                International Journal for Equity in Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                3 February 2020
                3 February 2020
                : 19
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0155 5938, GRID grid.33058.3d, Health Economics Research Unit, , KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme, ; P.O. BOX 43640-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2324 7186, GRID grid.412681.8, Sophia University, ; Chiyoda City, Japan
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0425 469X, GRID grid.8991.9, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ; London, UK
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8948, GRID grid.4991.5, Nuffield department of medicine, , Oxford University, ; Oxford, UK
                © The Author(s). 2020

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: DFID RESYST
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